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Exploring New Zealand


Part of Dunedin railway station

When you think of classic New Zealand photos, you probably consider Lake Matheson at dawn, a Maori greeting, a shy kiwi, sheep, mountains, glaciers, rivers, beaches, anything...but probably not a railway station.

And yet Dunedin railway station is one of the most photographed objects in the entire southern hemisphere. First opened in 1906, the "Flemish Renaissance" style exterior features the colour contrasts of basalt and limestone, complemented by red roof tiling. The result is a rather stunning piece of architectural heritage, with three towers and a cloister-like covered carriageway.

It's not just the exterior that catches the eye, though. Inside, the original mosaic floor consisted of over 750,000 individual pieces of Royal Doulton. And there are stained glass windows with train motifs. You can learn more about the architecture and history of the station at the official Dunedin site.

The famous, much-photographed Dunedin railway station

Despite its age, the station is in pristine condition. That's largely due to an extensive restoration in the 1990s. The exterior was renovated completely, and space created outside for an ornamental garden.

Dunedin station used to be part of the state railway network, but the Otago Central Railway line closed in 1990. Fortunately, a combination of private funds and municipal support has kept part of the line open for scenic and tourist train services, running as the Taieri Gorge railway. They offer trips on some 77km of track to Middlemarch, Pukerangi or Palmerston, along, over and under the hills, rockfaces and rivers of Otago.

The station is home to the ticket office for that service, but also hosts a restaurant, art gallery and the New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame, which moved there in 1999.

If you're visiting Dunedin, it's the work of a moment to find the station and grab that photo. Simply leave the central Octagon pedestrianized area (where the tourist information office is) and go east along Stuart Street toward the harbour. A couple of minutes walk takes you to Anzac Square, with the station opposite.

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